MOSCOW – Russia's Foreign Ministry has attacked America's human rights record in its first report on injustice elsewhere in the world, offering examples such as the Guantanamo Bay prison and wrongful death row convictions to paint the U.S. as hypocritical for lecturing other nations on the subject of rights.
"The situation in the United States is a far cry from the ideals that Washington proclaims," says the report released Wednesday.
Moscow has previously reacted angrily to the accusations of human rights breaches that the U.S. State Department has leveled at Russia in its annual reports. The State Department has expressed concern about the violent attacks on rights activists and journalists in Russia, most of which go unpunished. It also has criticized abuses in Russia's Caucasus, including extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and torture.
The 90-page Russian report slams EU nations, Canada and Georgia, but reserves its longest section of 20 pages for what it says are violations by the United States. The report does not cover Asia, Africa or the Middle East, other than a five-page section criticizing the NATO operation in Libya.
Moscow laments the ongoing operation of the "notorious" prison in Guantanamo Bay, where terrorism suspects have been held since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and criticizes President Barack Obama for "legalizing indefinite and extrajudicial custody and the return of court martials."
The report accuses the U.S. of prying into citizens' personal lives and violating the rights of Muslim Americans in the fight against terrorism. It also points to errors made by American courts.
"Judicial errors are the Achilles heel of American justice as concerns capital punishment," the report argues. It notes the roughly 130 people sentenced to death in the past 30 years who were later cleared of the charges, some after they were executed.
The Foreign Ministry also struck back at international criticism of Russia's recent parliamentary election, which independent observers said involved widespread fraud. Outrage over the vote set off a spate of protests led by citizens unhappy with Vladimir Putin's rule.
The report accuses the U.S. of blocking independent candidates from elections and criticizes the practice of allowing governors to nominate senators when a Senate seat is vacated, as when Obama became president. It refers to the conviction this year of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was accused of trying to auction off Obama's Senate seat.
The State Department is reviewing the Russian report, spokesman Mark Toner said. He said such reports can be a "useful mechanism provided that they are produced using objective methodology."
"We certainly don't regard it as interference in our internal affairs when foreign governments, individuals or organizations comment on or criticize U.S. human rights practices," he said, adding later, "In terms of our human rights record, we're an open book."